When the Pioneer Award was established in 2006, the goal was to recognize distinguished members of the trucking profession who had contributed to the industry, the association and their communities. Originally meant to serve as a one-time award in keeping with the 2006 conference theme – “Today’s Pioneers, Tomorrow’s Frontiers” – the awards proved so popular that the Board of Directors decided a year later to make them permanent but to award them only when individuals truly merited recognition for their industry service. The Pioneer Award has not been awarded since 2012.
Karen Rasmussen’s lifelong commitment to the trucking industry and her passion for truck safety began when she took a job working for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety. While serving in a public relations role, she had an opportunity to work with the Oklahoma Trucking Association, where she developed a deep appreciation for the trucking industry’s safety focus.
In 1984, Rasmussen decided to move to California and was encouraged by her contacts at the Oklahoma Trucking Association to reach out to the California Trucking Association (CTA) chief executive, Tom Schumacher. That fall, she was hired as Director of Communications for CTA.
For the next 13 years, Rasmussen would rise through the ranks of CTA as Director of Industry Affairs; Director of Governmental Affairs; Director of Policy; and Vice President.
In 1997, Rasmussen was hired as Director of Government Relations for Ryder System, Inc. There she was instrumental in leading the company’s advocacy efforts in 46 states and on Capitol Hill.
In 2001, after the sudden death of AMTA Managing Director, Terry Smalley, AMTA rallied to hire Karen as his replacement.
A common statement to describe Karen’s tenure as President and CEO for the Arizona Trucking Association is that “she brought the Association to a whole new level.”
While her accomplishments are too numerous to list, there is little doubt she left her mark on the Arizona Trucking Association. During her time as President and CEO, she established a budgeting and benchmarking process for the association; under her leadership, ATA’s membership doubled and the association built the new ATA headquarters in west Phoenix; she led the charge on passing the anti-indemnification legislation; she re-established the Safety and Maintenance Council; she established the Arizona Transportation Education foundation; and spearheaded the ‘Teens and Trucks’ video that is widely used by CVSA members, including several Canadian provinces.
Rasmussen now serves as the President and CEO for HELP Inc. – Provider of PrePass weigh station bypassing and toll management services.
She has received a number of national awards for her efforts including: American Trucking Associations President’s Award – Outstanding State Trucking Association Executive in 2005; Winner, Summa Cum Laude Award – Best State Association Safety Program, awarded by American Trucking Associations in 2010; and most recently, the Mike Russell Trucking Industry Image Award for HELP’s safety-focused messaging, presented by American Trucking Associations at its Management Conference & Exhibition in October this year. Additionally, Karen was recently named by Fleet Owner Magazine as one of a dozen “Outstanding Women in Trucking”.
“I believe that Karen Rasmussen is a good candidate for the Pioneer Award,” said Mike Jimenez, J&L Transport and former ATA chairman. “Her lifelong commitment to the industry and the advancement of our association makes her deserving, in my humble opinion.”
Past recipients of the Pioneer Award are as follows:
Ben Cravens, Utility Trailer Sales Co. of Arizona
Richard Dungan, SW Industrial Rigging
Bruce & Katie Dusenberry, Horizon Moving Systems
Clyde McDonald, Tatel, Inc.
Jerry Moyes, Swift Transportation, Inc.
Terry Smalley, AMTA (posthumously)
Hal Hedges, Atlas Forklift Rentals (posthumously)
Fred Hurley, Hurley Transportation Companies (posthumously)
Tom Morgan, Citizen’s Auto Stage/Citizen’s Express Lines
Pat Crahan, U-Haul International
William Ewing, Hurley Transportation Companies
John Ford, (formerly of) I-10 International Trucks
Freeman Theriault, Finders Equipment
Michael “Mickey” Bernstein, Baumann, Doyle, Paytas & Bernstein
Richard “Dick” Landis
Kevin Knight, Knight Transportation, Inc.